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FOCUSING ON THE EMOTIONS OF DAILY LIFE
A GUIDE FOR THEIR MAINTENANCE
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How to change without trying too hard
Ilan Shalif (Ph.D.)
Back to the CONTENTS
To do it yourself - now
To the Daily Focusing
To the recycled emotions
To the Special projects
To the Guide for the guide
To the Emotions
What are the emotions
The activation programs
Ad hoc activation programs
The emotional Supra-Programs
How it really works
to the Impossible missions???
CHAPTER 5 - IV. Second stage - Recycled Emotions (for very advanced focusers only)
The most benefit and the least damage to be derived from the
following steps is promised only to experienced focusers. In the course
of these steps one can encounter high intensity emotional experiences
that only focusers with a few months of training can tackle
Only a skilled focuser can remember in a time of trouble
to use the tactics that enable a swift escape from extreme unpleasant
feelings and other felt sensations: i. e. "closing the nape of the
neck", "rubbing the palms of the hands" and other means of diverting the
A beginner who "looks for trouble" and tries them
prematurely, may find himself loaded with very unpleasant feelings for
prolonged periods of time - even for hours and days. And the suffering
is not worth it. SO BE WARNED!!!
In addition to the unpleasantness of the invoked experiences, the
turmoil the "sleeping demons" may cause when aroused without the
suitable precautions may wreak havoc. The supra-programs of the
beginners, which deal with strong feelings, are not updated and mended
enough. When confronted with these strong and unpleasant feelings and
"dangerous" contents, the trash-programs may usually prefer to build new
complicated cover-programs, in order to evade the need to tackle the
unpleasant ones. SO BE WARNED AGAIN!!!
From a practical point of view, even after a few months training with
the sensate focus technique, it is not a good tactic to "invite"
(recycle) too intense feelings, emotions or other sensations from the
past. Usually, the most benefit is derived when one focuses on a felt
sensation of moderate intensity.
The criterion for the decision as to whether a target is inside the
moderate range or not is subjective, and changes according to the
circumstances. The rule of thumb about the optimum intensity is as
follows: "the best target for focusing is the felt sensation, the
intensity of which is such - that one can tackle it for a few minutes,
without arousing within oneself too strong an urge to escape".
So, refrain from intentionally recycling targets that
you cannot focus on comfortably.
Why to recycle
Often, even when you become used to the new technique and are in the
habit of focusing frequently, you cannot extract all that can be
exploited from every sensation and experience. Actually, even the most
obsessive and arduous focuser does not use more then 20% of the options.
Nevertheless, sometimes, on looking back (even after weeks, months or
years) one may realize that an important opportunity was overlooked.
In every one of those cases, in spite of the negligence, all is still
not lost. Upon reaching the conclusion that there is a treasure buried
in that missed opportunity, one can nearly always recycle it.
Though the vividness of the recycled experience is always wanting,
the intensity of the recycled feeling is milder than the original one,
and most often its quality too is not near the original one or even
quite different, there are always strong association chains connecting
them to the origin.
Thus, it can be used as a suitable feedback from the trash-programs
involved in the mending processes. Therefore, when the recycling does
not bring to the awareness the sensation sought, one of its "relatives"
created by the imagination might be good enough.
After one of the recycling steps bring about a suitable sensation,
start to divert some of your effort to the focusing on it. If no feeling
or any other felt sensation reaches awareness, you can still focus on
the subliminal ones tied to the subject you picked.
In the following paragraphs, the various aspects of the activity of
sensate focusing which bases itself on recycled felt sensations, will be
discussed in detail - including the description of the most benefiting
Why not Psychoanalysis?The General Sensate Focusing Technique is most distinct from the main
schools of psychotherapy in its regard to the causality of the things
one want to change. This is most strikingly expressed in our recycling
tactics and in their general strategy.
In theory and in practice nearly all schools and versions of
psychotherapy hold in high esteem the recognition, understanding,
comprehension, insight, etc. of the "pathology" (or at least, of it's
They pay considerable attention to the specific connections
between the behavioral problems, the sensations and the feelings of the
present - the symptoms, and the past events and mechanisms that are
supposed to have caused them.
In contrast, practice of the sensate focus
points to the conclusion that the sharp awareness of these connections
is generally of only secondary importance and most often even only
It seems that the effort to understand the exact root of the problems
one is encountering in one's life even hinders the processes of the
sensate focusing. The most deleterious influence of the search for
meaning and insight during focusing is due to the fact that the brain
resources are limited. Since the verbal thinking processes are competing
for the limited attentional and others of the brain's mind resources,
they infringe on those needed for the sensate focusing.
Thus, thinking on the emotional problem in order to solve it wastes
resources on verbal thinking activity, that cannot really do the
job. This activity tends to diverge most of the available resources to
the left hemisphere (half) of the brain - the half which is dedicated
mostly to logical thinking and reasoning and not to emotional
appraisals. Thus, even if one is not prejudiced against the habit of
paying attention to the felt sensations of one's body, only a scant
amount of it remains available for this task.
In addition, it seems that the application of the common habit of
analyzing the causality and logic of one's own emotional experience
strengthens the cover-programs. Sometimes, these efforts even make
complicated things more so, as it makes the UN-tangling of the
complexity of the defenses nearly impossible.
Many people were "brain washed" into believing that an improvement in
the quality of their emotional life is possible - only if they can
acquire an insight into their problems. The following "coin" is brought
in order to alleviate a bit of their uneasiness: On one of its sides is
written the proverb - "Have you come to steal grapes or to quarrel with
the vineyard guard". On the other side it is written that, in all the
important matters, the solution of the problem brings about the
understanding of its roots.
Thus, refrain from chasing thoughts and ideas while you
hunt emotions, feelings and felt sensations
Hurrah for the practical leftism.
For about 97% of the population, the management of their emotional
life is done mainly by the right half (hemisphere) of the
brain. Therefore, nearly any activity that increases the amount of brain
resources, usable by this hemisphere, enhances the processes related to
the activity of sensate focusing. Consequently, it is most recommended,
while focusing, to attend mainly to the sensations of the left part of
the body, which is directly connected to the right side of the brain.
Sometimes, the sensations are only partly or more clearly felt in the
right side of the body. In these cases focusing on the parallel place of
the left side may "force" the transfer, or the appearance of other felt
sensations there. When the sensations are at the medial plain of the
body, it is most preferred to focus on the points that are more to the
left of the center.
However, when one is working on the recycling of emotions and
feelings as in any other sensate focus activity, the use of the left
hemisphere of logic, analytic and other verbal thinking processes is not
forbidden. There is much benefit to be gained from these processes if
For instance, the decisions on the timing of the sensate focus
activity, and the decisions about the target and specific tactic of
recycling the emotions, are usually best taken by the left hemisphere of
the brain. It is especially so with regard to the initiation of focusing
sessions, but also in the semi-spontaneous focusing on each felt
sensation encountered during the day.
The continual effort to keep the processes of focusing on the felt
sensation of the time, and the prevention of diversions and distractions
is also mainly done by this half of the brain.
The application of the thinking processes of the left hemisphere to
reviewing the results of the sensate focus can help too. It can help in
five important ways:
As a rule, thinking about problems related to focusing can contribute
towards their solution, but usually, only by serving as a means to draw
from it inspiration for future focusing.
- It can be used to organize the ongoing daily focusing activity which
is done in addition to the spontaneous one.
- It can be used for analyzing problematic areas in order to choose
specific targets to focus on.
- It can be used to choose a verbal means to recycle emotions,
to incite a domain the content of which is not accessible through other
means and does not express itself in felt sensations.
- It is especially important when applied after the first few
of focusing at the beginning, after focusing on a new topic, and at
specific "crossroads" - for the assessment of the benefit derived from
past focusing. This verbal contemplation and review of previous
successful focusings is one of the best ways to boost the morale. It
contributes immensely to the strengthening of the tendency to dedicate
attentional resources to future focusings.
- It is the best means to choose a new "project" or emotional domain,
after one gains more resources from focusing on previous ones.
It is also important to remember that the activity of focusing is
motivated by many incentives. The satisfaction derived from the
understanding of the roots of the solved emotional problems is very
seldom high on the list.
However, sometimes, the solution of a long standing, puzzling problem
is so moving and satisfying that it temporarily climbs to a very high
standing on the list. In these instances it becomes only secondary to
that derived from the improvement in the quality of the emotional
Recycled emotions A - Reconstruction of neglected opportunitiesFrequently, we encounter intense sensations and feelings that are
worth focusing on, for the improvement of the quality of life, but alas,
the circumstances - i.e. the time, the place, the company etc. - are not
suitable. The variety of reasons for not focusing at the time is huge:
from situations in which we cannot afford to spare attentional efforts
and divert them to focusing from what we are doing at the time, to those
situations we do not want to dwell due to our wish to curtail the
episode or interpersonal interaction that has created the specific felt
For instance, very often we find ourselves involved in situations
wherein we have to enlist all our resources to overcome an obstacle, a
problem or emergency; situations that we want to shorten; situations
where we need to cover our real emotions - or even lie about them, for
fear of direct damage to us by a bully, a policeman, the boss at work,
judge, customs officer, etc.; situations in which we are afraid to hurt
the feelings of others; etc.
More often we find ourselves involved in situations that are
emotionally loaded, with acquaintances or strangers, but in
circumstances we are not free to indulge or to stress our point.
Many times, in such situations, we feel intuitively or even recognize
clearly why the focusing - on feelings we discarded at the time - can
contribute immensely to the quality of our life. Though we feel at these
moments that we only have to focus briefly in order to be relieved of
much unfinished business, or "only" improve significantly our emotional
climate, we nevertheless have to refrain from doing so at the time.
In less dramatic situations and conditions we also miss out on many
divergent opportunities for focusing. In these cases the reasons are
usually the result of laziness, negligence, or underestimation of the
value of the potential target for focusing.
It also happens time and again that only afterwards, when we are
reflecting on an event of the past, that we see it as being a key to the
door of an important locked store of trash-programs.
The factor that contributes the majority of reasons for missed
opportunities for focusing is their sheer quantity. No one can utilize
all of them. Most of us lack the sufficient single-mindedness that would
force us to utilize most of them, by sacrificing everything in the
service of focusing.
Not even the most arduous believer in the technique, nor even the
most obsessive one - when at the peak of involvement with the focusing
project - dedicates more than 20% of the time to focusing.
Sometimes, only after much contemplation can we reach the conclusion
that an occurrence and the feelings involved therein, are the target to
tackle in order to solve a certain trash-program.
In nearly all these circumstances the convinced focuser would want to
concentrate on his sensations and feelings (focus on his felt
sensations) so that his enhanced natural biofeedback processes would
contribute to his well-being.
In all these circumstances and in many others which have not been
mentioned here, "wrong can be rectified" post facto - with out too
tiring an effort. The most common tool used for this mission is the
memory. Often, with little effort, one can get in touch with the memory
traces of a situation or a scene of the past and feel something that is
connected with it.
Whenever you are recycling past feelings be cautious!!! Do not try
to tackle strong feelings that are connected to traumatic
experiences before you have invested a few months in
the "head cleaning" of lesser ones.
Choose now an emotionally loaded experience of the previous
week, the focusing potential of which you have not yet
exhausted. Use your imagination to get back to that
episode. Focus for a while on the
resulting felt sense.
Recycled emotions B - Lost & FoundOften, during the focusing on a felt sensation, or between focusing
sessions, we remember emotional experiences of pre-focusing periods of
the near or distant past. Sometimes, specific memories become available
to the awareness processes only after we have acquired sufficient
achievements using the sensate focus technique. An example of this are
certain memories of childhood that had not been available to us for
years. Whenever this occurs, it is worth treating those "lost and found"
memories as treasures.
It is not only worth focusing on these feelings of the past when they
have their spontaneous comeback, but it is also worth recycling them
often during the next few weeks, before they fade again. Like the
feelings accompanying the fresh memories of a dream which tend to fade
if nothing is done to treasure them, so are these of the memory which
came back. Both can be used as keys to a magic store of trash-programs.
Experiences of this kind are usually denied entrance to the awareness
due to the active gate keeping activities of cover-programs. They can
enter the awareness after many years of absence for a plethora of
reasons. It does not matter whether the memory was allowed to enter the
awareness because the covering-programs were updated by focusing, or
because they have failed temporarily to do their job. Whatever the
reason, do not miss the opportunity!!!
Usually, the lost and found memory is an intimate summary of some
personal emotional past, that plays an essential part in an ancient and
fundamental supra-program, which has not been updated for many
years. Supra-programs of this kind are usually the base, or at least an
important component, of many trash-programs that are executed frequently
in the present.
As a result of this, the recycling of each of these
found memories usually causes change and improvement in a whole series
of trash-programs. Consequently, within one successful focusing one can
bring about a significant improvement in the emotional climate and a
significant breakthrough in the systematic project of improving the
quality of life.
Recycled emotions C - Changing behavioral patternsVery often, during a general "head cleaning", the focuser discovers a
habit or an emotional pattern he wants to get rid of, but cannot achieve
this through sheer will-power. Often, too, the wish to rid himself of a
whole life style or pattern is the initial reason for starting focusing
training. It is most commonly to be found amongst those called
"introverts", "obsessives" or "compulsives". It is usually clear for
those types who are aware of having this kind of "personality trait",
that this is the root of most of their emotional problems.
Alas, the organized formation of trash-programs that are responsible
for the maintenance of this style of life, do not usually send direct
emotional announcements - through feelings and sensations - to the focus
of awareness. The announcements related to these trash-programs that do
reach the awareness are not directly tied to them. They are nearly
always at the end of a long chain of covering programs.
Therefore, the updating processes which are supposed to use the
natural biofeedback enhanced by the focusing effort are still hardly
able to trace back the whole chain effectively. These "organized crime
families" are very hard to infiltrate. If one relies on the usual
tactics of focusing alone, one cannot nourish a realistic hope of
passing through the protecting barriers.
In these cases, focusing on the feelings that do reach awareness,
improves the general emotional climate and the cognitive functioning,
but does not solve the main problems. The emotional announcements of the
central trash-programs - that seldom enter the awareness - are thinly
spread along the time continuum, and one cannot seriously rely on them.
In both cases - whether the direct announcement does reach the
awareness or not - special preparations are needed if one wants to
succeed in tackling the life style. The core of the preparation is the
reconstruction of scenes or scripts relevant to the original
socialization pattern suspected of being the root of this life
Based on specific private memories (mainly from childhood),
personal idiosyncrasies, and on general psychological knowledge - one
can build oneself a schedule. It is recommended to include in the list
(or script) the most distressing pronouncements, occurrences,
expressions and instances of the said life style or behavioral pattern.
If the preliminary preparations are carried out well, and one has the
basic know how of recycling emotions, one can proceed and create the
suitable felt sensation(s) for the focusing.
Sometimes, all these efforts to reconstruct and recycle fail. This
can be the result of too strong cover-programs or too weak "sensual
memory" (parallel to the visual, echoic, semantic, etc. memories) or
because of both. In these cases, the best recycling tactics are the
guided fantasy and imagery. Doing this, one can substitute the reluctant
real episodes for counterfeit ones.
One can imagine real or imagined scenes that suit the
content of one's problem, but do not necessarily
conform to reality. One can use scenes that one is sure never
happened. One can even use those one is sure will never happen. For
instance, when one cannot reconstruct a violent struggle with a deceased
brother, which happened at one's parents' home in childhood - one can
imagine the struggle taking place in the new country club one has just
When nothing at all works, when even the combination of imagery,
verbal declarations and the simultaneous "opening of the nape of the
neck" does not bring to the awareness any felt sensation one can focus
on - there is still one remedy left. One (and you too) can always
combine the memories, imaginary scenes and verbal declarations, related
to the target of recycling, with the focusing on subliminal sensations
of the face and vocal cords. After a while - usually less than a month -
the cover-programs will start to yield, and the effort needed decrease.
Recycled emotions D - A violent patrolFrequently, we decide to do one thing or another, but one way or
another nothing really gets done. Often, in order to execute a task at
hand we only have to sit and write down the things that are already
organized and well-phrased in our head, but we seem unable to "do this",
as in a nightmare.
When this happens it seems that there is an unsettled argument
between the two main subsystems of our mind - the left-verbal-logical
one and the right-intuitive-emotional one. It mainly happens when the
logical processes and the left side of the brain reach the conclusion
that we need to do something: utter a word, write, create, perform a
However, the right side in general and the emotional system
specifically does not agree with it. So, instead of cooperating, the
emotional system (which is the base of motivation) obstructs the
execution of the decision. Thus, time and again without any apparent
cause, the "final decisions" we reach remain without the behavioral
compliance to them: we postpone, evade, forget and so on.
Though it seems to be a conflict between the logical part and the
emotional one, it is not really so. The real cause is a deeper one; it
is a contradiction between different emotions or trash-programs. In
addition to all the troubles, to make things worse, the control
procedures of the trash-programs involved seem most of the time to be
indifferent to the conflict and the failure. They do not give any
"excuse" and do not send any sensation or feeling to alert the
It seems as if the right hemisphere and the trash-programs know that
"conspiracy is their best protection". It seems they are wise to the
fact that if they remain silent and do not "protest too loudly", they
can evade responsibility and are secure from the wrath of the left
hemisphere and the verbal processes.
Luckily, during the development of the focusing technique, a remedy
to that problem was found. It seems that one can very easily force the
emotional system to yield, and give a feeling or a sensation as an
excuse to its recalcitrance, to be used as a natural biofeedback by
It has been found that here - as in many other obstructions - the
roundabout approach is the best way to tackle the problem. Using it, the
subsystem of logical thinking can find a graduated schedule, that will
enable the mending processes to settle the actual and the original
conflicts, without arousing too intense sensations and an emergency
For instance, if the evaded mission is to write some thing like
a paper, poem, story, request, or any other compulsory or wished-for
writing, do the following:
This procedure smells of a miracle, because while you adhere to its
rules, you can easily sit near the task materials you evaded for so
long. The source of the miracle is entirely secular - the configuration
of the cover-programs and the other trash-programs that before hindered
you, have no in-built protection against focusing. When the staunch
promise not to do the task is in effect (and can be relied on), the
composite opposition of the cover and trash-programs are not aroused.
- Arrange on your table or any other working surface the materials
needed for the mission.
- Promise yourself that you will not try to do your mission at this
- Sit at the table or the working surface and put your hand on the
writing utensils or the printing instrument.
- After a few seconds of comfortably sitting in that position start to
search for sensations to focus on. (Nearly everything you feel at this
stage is related to the trash-program and the cover-program you are
- Start to focus on the felt sensation that the "as if" situation
arouses in you. (If the trash-programs and the cover-programs are so
stubborn that even at this stage they do not yield any felt sensation
that you are aware of, you can always help yourself by using the
technique of opening the nape of the neck.
In the rare instance that
this also fails, you can still revert to the focusing on the subliminal
activities of the facial muscles and the vocal cords. You can always
build on the finding, so far, that the emotions, feelings, moods
sensations, etc. at the time of recycling - including the subliminal ones
and those that are just above it - are closely associated with your
- During each of the following few days initiate a few short periods of
focusing on the scene of the future "crime".
- After a few sessions of focusing, approach the work area with the
inclination to try to do the job. It is worth checking from time to time
to see if the original barrier that prevented the wished for activity is
still there. At one of those checking points you are going to find that
you can already do what you wanted (or had to do).
Though this "trick" is entirely secular, there are a few nearly
sacred rules to be obeyed for the sake of long term implications:
Remember, you can cheat others successfully, you can even kid
- Never try to cheat yourself! It might be that you will fail the first
- Never break your word to yourself by trying to do the evaded task when
finding yourself seated at it, after you opened your way to the working
site with the promise only to focus!!! Losing trust in yourself is even
worse than losing the trust of others.
- Even after you have done a substantial amount of focusing near the
materials, get away from them before trying to surmount the evaded task!
According to the "rules", trying to cope with the evaded mission is
legitimate only when one decides on it away from the site of focusing.
yourself to believe in one thing or the other if you
repeat it long enough. But, it is not probable
that you can kid your own trash-programs.
In addition to these reservations about cheating yourself, we want to
stress and emphasize the seriousness of this kind of emotional
recycling. You have to take into account that this way of sneaking into
the garbage pile of the trash-programs is more like using explosives to
force an entry into the safe of a bank than picking pockets. You can
never know in advance what the intensity of the pent up emotions will be
if they are tampered with through harsh measures.
Therefore, when using this technique to tackle behavioral patterns,
especially if they are related to central themes of your life, be
cautious. At the beginning, content yourself with small "doses" of
focusing on the relevant felt sensation. Later, when you feel that a
breakthrough is near, you can quicken the pace.
Recycled emotions E - Popular scientific literature, art works, nostalgiaMany authors strive to enrich the public with the knowledge accumulated
by scientists from various branches of the social sciences. Many of these
books contain suggestions and even direct advice about life, that are of
the "do it yourself" kind.A lot of them spotlight some parts of our life.
While reading them and applying the new knowledge, one encounters
emotions, feelings, sensations, both above and below the threshold of
Whatever the scientific or the practical value of these books,
focusing while reading them may be a wonderful way to meet felt
sensations of trash-programs related to specific areas of one's
life. The contents of these books may acquaint the focuser with problem
areas he had not previously been aware of or did not even suspect were
there. While reading these books, the focusing on the felt sensations
encountered may stress for him the importance of problem areas he was
only marginally aware of.
Many people, if not all of us, derive from art works in general, and
especially literary works, a wide spectrum of positive and mixed
emotional feelings. Focusing on these will usually bring about both an
improvement of trash-programs and greater pleasure.
Recycled emotions F - A most violent patrolThere are well-established findings of the dynamic psycho-therapies
(Freudian, Adlerian and others), and the behavioral ones, as well as
those of the research of upbringing, education and socialization of the
first years of life. Both these (and other scientific findings) point
out the intimate relationships between the trash-programs of the adult,
and the prolonged intensive encounters with the key personalities of
that early period, especially the parents and siblings.
One can always "fish out" these trash-programs which are intimately
connected with those figures by using various tactics. But, as it goes
straight to the heart of things, it is not recommended for beginners or
those who do not feel themselves proficient enough with the various
tactics of focusing. Even later, after having mastered the new
technique, do not force upon yourself intense feelings related to that
age. Impetuous encounters with those memories might result in the
strengthening of cover-programs.
The routine activities of primitive cover-programs which originated
at an early age and were not updated and mended in time, are the main
reason and the most important contributor to the chronic delay in the
mending and updating of the supra-programs of the mind. The most elegant
way to make these and other trash-program more flexible is to recycle
the early memories of childhood. This can easily be done by using
photographs of those significant figures from the present or the past.
It seems that for the people one is still in touch with, the best
photographs are the most recent ones. In contrast to the other
components of the trash-programs related to them, this part (i.e. - the
facial expressions of these agents) is easily and spontaneously updated
all through the years.
According to many satisfied focusers, the best way is to focus the
eyes on the picture, and parallel to this, to focus on the feelings and
sensations they arouse - using the various tactics of focusing
previously mentioned: opening the nape of the neck, focusing on
subliminal sensations, etc. It seems that this recycling of emotional
content brings up felt sensations that are free of too problematic
contents. Thus, cover-programs rarely interfere or hinder, if not done
At first, it is best to focus for only short periods of time so as
not to arouse too intense feelings. Later, one can gradually lengthen
the sessions. After there are no more significant feelings to
experience, and no more discernible expressions of the relevant
trash-programs encountered, one can use the photographs to recycle
specific episodes from the past.
In the first sessions of using the photographs, the emotions may
surge, even if the pictures have been periodically looked at outside of
the focusing context. The intensity may be unbearable or almost so even
after only a few seconds. Therefore, be ready to abandon this activity
swiftly or to use other emergency means to trim the emerging felt
sensation to the right measure. Don't strive to be a hero of sensate
focusing. This wish is itself a trash-program!!!
The above technique can be applied also to photographs of situations,
places and less significant people, as well as through other media -
such as drawings, music, reunions, etc. It seems that this technique,
when applied in cases of death or separation, shortens the mourning
period and restricts the damage borne by the focuser. It is especially
so when the mourning is the result of the severance of intimate ties
with a mate.
Recycled emotions G - The provocationsProfessor Eugene T. Gendlin and a group of associates at the
University of Chicago discovered focusing many years ago. After
developing the General Sensate Focusing Technique, I learned that "I had
invented the wheel for the second time". The idea of verbal provocations
as a means of arousing felt sensations to focus on was adopted from him
and from publications of the Focusing Institute. The following section
explains in brief the version of the "Provocative Assault" method used
by me and my trainees.
Though it is stressed very often in this book that the felt
sensations and the focusing on them are non verbal processes, I do not
have any prejudice against verbal processes. In daily life, "some of my
best friends" communicate with me verbally. I think verbally in private
from time to time, and even use words in focusing training sessions for
various purposes. As long as one does not forget that focusing and the
felt sensations are mainly a non verbal process of the right half
(hemisphere) of the brain, the use of verbal processes can be of no harm
and even of great help.
Verbal provocations built to suit the content of a problematic aspect
of one's life, recited to oneself sub vocally, can always bring up a
related felt sensation on which one can focus. The self-provoking verbal
approach is a most potent tactic to arouse "sleeping" maladaptive
trash-programs, related to the specific problem or domain one is
interested in at the time, and force them to create felt sensations to
Therefore it is most helpful when one is working on a project.
It is very helpful when one is too impatient to wait for a suitable felt
appear spontaneously. It is still helpful when one wants to change for a
while the sensations and topic one is working on at the time.
The common provocation consists a few words or a short sentence with
a false content that one can recite silently to oneself. The following
are samples of various kinds of provocations: "I am never afraid", for
exaggerations; "I am never late" for absurdities; "I am omnipotent" for
the status emotions; "I am going to win the big prize in the lottery"
for the distortion of probabilities; "she/he is coming" for wishful
thinking or dread of facts; etc.
The most prominent on the list are the verbal exclamations that
describe the target topic, such as: "I am afraid of ...." or the
paradoxical negation sayings like "I am not afraid of..." and vice
versa. When one is "hunting" for a felt sensation related to a specific
content, the negative sayings "I am not...", "I do not...", "I
A single recitation of one of these, followed by concentrated
focusing, is usually the fastest and most "elegant" way of "fishing" for
the right felt sensation. When one recites these exclamations to oneself
silently, it is less embarrassing and works even better than when
reciting them aloud.
It seems that the decentralization of the subsystems of the brain
enable one subsystem to con, cheat, taunt, ridicule, etc. another
subsystem. It works just as it works among kids who annoy each other
this way. The provocations use the same old processes discovered by
Abraham and later by Ellis (R.E.T.), which causes much trouble
for those who repeat negative sayings to
themselves. However, the provocation tactic is not restricted to
negatives, and is based on a single recitation followed by focusing on
the felt sensations.
The ability of the provocations to arouse trash-programs which works at
the time subliminally is dependant on the program more than on the
provocation. Thus, one cannot guess in advance what will be the
intensity of the emerging felt sensation. Therefore, when
using it for the first time on a topic or a problem,
be ready with all the emergency tactics to trim
too intense felt sensations. Do not use this
tactic when very exited or too troubled.
V. Synthetic emotions or "remedy before disaster"
Frequently, we are uneasy before an encounter with the unknown or the
partly known, especially if the results have significance for our future.
Sometimes, as a result of the activities of trash-programs even
insignificant situations have the ability to affect us. Many times the
results of the rehearsals are damaging; we feel worse before, we perform
badly when the future becomes the present and we often feel very badly
Many times, rehearsing before a meeting costs people their
sleep. Often, the conscientious plans one makes soon deteriorate into
worries, self-torture, obsessions and other unpleasant things. These
activities are the results of trash-programs which work inside and
outside of the focused awareness. These activities are the root of many
bad and irrelevant programs. They are the main contributing factor to
all "negative hypotheses which tend to fulfill themselves".
Sometimes though, the preceding uneasiness and the functioning in the
real situation are improved when we rehearse things in advance. Many
people - or perhaps everyone - profit from time to time from these
rehearsals. When people rehearse, they usually conduct imaginary
dialogues or even plot a whole series of scenarios in advance. The
rehearsals of many are so much like the real thing that they are like
Nearly all of us can and do accompany our verbal worries about the
future with imaginary films or video clips, or at least with slides and
emotional "background music". The memory of the "artificial experiences"
lessens the feelings of uncertainty and indecision before and during the
As a result of these rehearsals, the artificial memories allow us to
become better organized emotionally, but they also result in a new group
of prejudices. Whenever the sensate focusing is integrated into these
rehearsals, the damage and dangers that would otherwise occur can be
restricted and the gains greatly increased. This is especially so for
emotionally loaded interpersonal meetings.
When focusing on different alternative steps in the development of
the future encounter, one can trigger off in advance a lot of
trash-programs that are potentially damaging to the outcome of the
expected encounter. This focusing will then update in advance the
trash-programs involved and remove their intrusive effect.
In focusing this way, one can adhere to naturalistic scenarios; one
can include highly improbable scenes to ensure against their unprepared
occurrence, as they could cause a lot of damage; one can even include
impossible exaggerations of possible scenes in order to immunize oneself
against the real occurrences.
For instance, before walking at night through a dubious area, we can
imagine a fire-spitting dragon attacking us. After a few short
focusings, the scene ceases to arouse strong feelings as the
trash-programs involved have been updated and improved. If one persists
for too long, the scene could even become boring. After these
deliberations, it is improbable that the encounter with an unexpected
wailing cat during a night trip will cause little more than a small
and/or brief increase in the blood pressure and pulse.
This synthetic "remedy before trouble" is most helpful when activated
before meetings, interviews, or other encounters the main details of
which are known in advance.
Specific (and general) suggestions, questions, and other positive (or
negative) feedback of readers and of new trainers are welcome. Just use the E-Mail link.
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